Man Meets Food is Richman's latest incarnation of his experiential television shows about discovering and devouring great food across the country. Here's how the network describes the series:
In the new original Travel Channel series Man Finds Food, the foodie and in-the-know host crisscrosses the country on the ultimate quest to uncover unique, surprising, delicious and hidden food treasures. Having spent years on the road introducing viewers to America’s most interesting eating establishments, Richman has tasted nearly every dish imaginable and learned of many cuisine secrets lurking around the American food scene. He unveils a combination of off-the-menu items and off-the-grid restaurants — some that are even hidden to locals!
So what has Richman discovered in Nashville? According to the episode guide, it doesn't sound like he found anything that most regular Bites readers haven't heard about, but it does look like a fun ride:
You'll remember that ex-Husk chef Morgan McGlone took hot chicken to Melbourne after decamping from Sean Brock's place here in Nashville. Now his former partner, chef Aaron Turner, is taking it around the bay to Geelong, with an interesting description of his new place.
The lure of living by the beach and good business opportunities has drawn Turner to Geelong.
At the Hot Chicken Project they'll be serving spicy Nashville-style hot chicken — from mild to blow-your-head-off — natural wines and craft beers including Collingwood Draught from Brunswick's Thunder Road Brewing Company on tap.
The 40-seater has a vibe Turner describes as "Nashville ghetto", which complements the area's other bars, live music venues, record bar and restaurants. The Hot Chicken Project, 84a Little Malop Street, Geelong, will open for dinner Tuesday to Thursday, all day Friday and Saturday and Sunday brunch.
Anybody want to hazard a guess as to what that means? Keep it at a high level in the comments, Bites posters.
Seeing as it is Cinco de Mayo, they've decided to celebrate with a Mexican theme at their big opening celebration from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.. in addition to their regular array of fresh locally grown vegetables, fruit, meat and artisan foods, they have sveeral other attractions to draw you into the park early:
1 free bag of tortilla chips for the first 50 families
1 free salsa sample for the first 50 families
1 free farmers market scavenger hunt for the first 50 families
Five giveaways, one every 30 minutes from 4 to 6:30 p.m.
Create your own piñata station for children 3-and-older
Two food trucks: Yayo's OMG and The Grilled Cheeserie
You can see there are plenty of incentives to be among the first attendees for the market at 3000 Granny White Pike, so maybe cut out of work a little early today.
Blaze Pizza touts itself as “the Chipotle of pizza” (side note: the actual Chipotle of pizza, Pizzeria Locale, has yet to come to Tennessee) opened just a couple of weeks ago and is already drawing steady crowds. But the line moves quickly, thanks to Blaze’s 800-degree oven, which finishes off a freshly topped pizza in just three minutes. By the time you’ve filled up your drink, you’ve likely already got a pizza ready to eat.
Even better, the pizza is good. The 11-inch crusts are rolled out thin in advance of topping for greater speed, and you choose every part of the pizza — sauces and toppings — as you shuffle down the assembly line. A menu of specialty pizzas exists as a group of good suggestions, or you can make your own from the large selection of toppings. In addition to the usual suspects, toppings include six base sauces, goat and feta cheeses as well as fresh mozzarella, roasted garlic, fresh basil, arugula, and spinach, and three types of olives. Meats include applewood bacon, crumbled meatballs and smoked ham. Gluten-free dough and vegan cheeses are also available.
Two restaurants, The Sutler and Acme Feed & Seed, have added lunch options that can help you beat that friction and take advantage of the precious sustenance break at midday. Over in Melrose, The Sutler sits in the middle of a residential/commercial development that has plenty of parking spaces before Sinema opens up for dinner and jams the lot. In fact, The Sutler's owner, Austin Ray, told me that was a major reason why he decided to open up for lunch: "We've always got lots of parking, and our menu lends itself to lunch, dinner and late night."
That's true, but you might want to schedule some naptime in the afternoon. Their popular Potted Smoke appetizer leads off the small plates, and the rich smoked pork butt and brisket confit is an excellent way to kick off a decadent lunch. Healthier and slightly lighter choices include a nice selection of salads, but most of them also include a protein like fried chicken or hanger steak to make them meal-worthy. Not that I'm complaining. The Nashville Hot Nuggets are a sharable snack of spicy fried chicken breast chunks with Alabama white sauce for dipping. They were admirably hot and surprisingly juicy for white meat.
Ray is particularly proud of chef Nick Seabergh's take on their Saloon Burger. Topped with white cheddar, charred green chilies, lettuce, onion and ancho aioli and served with some of The Sutler's amazing french fries, this burger should give Ray's sister restaurant across the road a run for its money. (Although M.L. Rose does have many more burger options.) Other sandwiches are homages to The Sutler's old menu in its previous incarnation before the building was redeveloped. I've already told you about the Roast beef No. 2 as part of The Sutler's late-night menu, but it bears repeating that this is a fantastic sandwich.
Last Monday, April 27, was the first official night of service, but they're still ramping up their service and finishing up what should become a very popular patio and outdoor bar. Don't be surprised if the cocktail, wine and beer list is still a little curtailed as they train their servers and bartenders on the new offerings. I've been told that there are a lot more bottles in the cellar waiting to be rolled out. That being said, the bar is prepared to mix up just about any cocktail, even if there are just three cocktails listed on the menu. (Curiously, they are numbered 2-4 and nobody was able to tell me what happened to No. 1.)
The spacious dining area is decorated with dramatic art, some from the collection of Chef Lindley, including several paintings created by the chef himself. A large statue of Revolutionary War hero Francis Nash, the namesake of our fair city, dominates the center of the dining room. The Quonset hut-like building has soaring ceilings and subdued romantic lighting, so bring your cheaters if you have trouble reading menus in low light.
The menu describes dishes by their ingredients, rather than by cooking technique, but questions to the waitstaff were answered quickly and correctly. Divided into Snacks, Appetizers, Salads, Entrees, Grilled Items, Other and Sides, the menu lists a tight roster of American fare. On my first visit, we managed to taste through a small portion of the offerings, but were impressed by everything we tried.
But don't worry if you don't have nine friends to join you for dinner; you can reserve the whole table or any number up to 10, space allowing. Once those 10 seats are reserved in advance for one of the 8 p.m. seatings on Friday and Saturday nights, that's it. Everybody else in the restaurant will just have to sit back and turn green with envy as they watch the spectacle coming out of the kitchen.
And it is a spectacle, as several of the courses emerge already plated (planked?) on a long 2-by-10 board that is set along the center of the table with a great flourish. I was fortunate to try out a test run of the x|x concept, and it was entertaining and darned convenient to see how they had perfectly spaced the dishes on the plank so that each diner had access to their individual helping.
Although it is intended to be a tasting menu, the courses aren't necessarily just small bites. While some were just a flavorful morsel, most were the equivalent of a nice tapas portion. Organized around themes like "Snacks," "Spring" or "Goo Goo," Little's menu will change frequently according to seasonally available ingredients. While courses like the amazing "everything bagel" Pretzel and Pork Belly might not need to change seasonally, Little hopes to keep himself creatively challenged by swapping out dishes on a weekly basis.
Little and May describe each course as it comes out, and they're actually doing the bulk of the cooking of the x|x menu in Josephine's kitchen. "I'm really excited about starting the x|x experience at Josephine. It allows me the opportunity to have personal interactions with the guests who join us while composing a thoughtful menu throughout ten courses. I'm excited about cooking and describing each course to the guests in an environment that is uniquely Josephine."
Cavendish loved it. The dining scene alone is something to see. Unlike many Nashville restaurants, he says, which peak at 7:30, "Kelly's doesn't really get rolling until well after 8, with people arriving for a drink at the cozy bar before slipping into one of the well-worn, quite comfortable chairs for dinner."
And even if you're not a political kingmaker — like Tom Ingram, who's into his fourth decade as a Kelly's regular with a booth of his own — Jimmy Kelly's is a special place.
So, Bites Nation, what's your favorite Old Nashville restaurant? Kelly's for its pageantry and tasty steaks? Varallo's for a hot chile bowl and more than a century of family service? Maybe Sportsman's Grille, going strong since 1985? Where else?
I, myself, champion Pancake Pantry (opened in 1961) as my neighborhood breakfast and lunch place — it's got a broad menu that tackles pancakes and eggs in delicious, multifarious forms, house-made soup and veteran waitresses with the wit to crack you up over your eggs.
And what else is on your mind?
One highlight will be a hot wing-eating contest on Saturday at 3 p.m. sponsored by Edley's Bar-B-Que. I don't know whether the contest will be judged on volume, speed or heat level, but it should be entertaining. If you're looking to eat just a human (not superhuman) amount of food, there will be more than 100 vendors offering comestibles and crafts for sale around the park. There will also be an El Jimador cocktail lounge serving up craft drinks during the weekend.
Saturday's festivities are free, but you'll need to buy a ticket for the Friday night concert featuring Penny & Sparrow and Johnnyswim. While I'll admit my ignorance as to who those bands are, if they excite you, run buy your ticket at the event website. There's also a full listing of the schedule and participating vendors at that same spot.
Enjoy a big weekend in the park!
A note on the Facebook page for the Pied Piper Creamery ice cream shop, the Piper family's other business, stated:
Today is a sad day for the Pied Piper Empire. We have lost our Five Star General Becky Piper, owner of The Pied Piper Eatery. In her honor, we will have Ziggy Starcrunch, her favorite flavor, in the case this weekend.
Rest in peace, sister.
Managers at both restaurants confirmed that Piper had died, but passed along word from the family that they were not yet ready to comment further.
Pied Piper Eatery opened near Riverside Village in 2008 and quickly became a favorite for families and other fans of fine diner fare served up in a friendly atmosphere. Scene restaurant critic Carrington Fox praised the Eatery's food and service in her review in 2009, adding that "the brace of homespun dining enterprises started by siblings Becky, Andy and Jenny Piper are just so freakin' adorable."
Just last month in the Food and Drink issue, the Scene's Steve Cavendish singled out Pied Piper as a family-friendly dining gem, "the Inglewood restaurant that's unafraid of your children and still serves a mean sandwich."
The Scene will share more details as they become available.
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